Addison Lee tells Mayor Khan straight on new driving charges… “This isn’t the right choice for London”. London private-hire behemoth Addison Lee has asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan to put his money where his mouth is.
The new net-zero plan
Sadiq Khan recently announced a new charging scheme that will replace both the Congestion Charge and ULEZ. Under the new program, drivers of what Khan calls “all but the cleanest vehicles” will be penalised.
Right now, the plan is to initially charge motorists a daily fee of up to £2, with a plan to introduce a pay-per-mile system introduced further down the road. This is hot on the heels of a recent City Hall report that said London’s 2030 target to achieve net-zero could only be achieved with a 27% reduction in car traffic.
If this new scheme is brought in, we need an EV infrastructure
Addison Lee recently countered that if Sadik wants to impose such a significant plan on London’s motorists, he needs to back it up with a serious investment in our EV infrastructure. Also, the private-hire company asked for clarification of whether this new plan is to cut pollution or congestion? Both are very valid demands from the minicab leader.
Liam Griffin, Addison Lee CEO, says he supports the direction but takes issue with the mayor’s choice of implementation: “The current approach focuses on removing vehicles from London’s roads by increasing taxes on-road use,” he said.
Is getting cars off really the right goal? Is it achievable at all?
Liam Griffin thinks that, in order to clean London’s air, the focus should be on supporting an overall shift for drivers to fully electric vehicles. Addison Lee is quick to announce that they are electrifying our entire fleet by 2023 – two years before Uber.
As we’ve discussed before on the Plan blog, electric vehicles can only work as a viable solution to the environmental issues Sadiq Khan wants to reduce if they are enough chargers for motorists. In order to do that, a massive overall in the infrastructure is needed. This would take millions, and maybe that’s why the London mayor isn’t mentioning it.
The RAC says this will affect the people we need to keep on the roads.
Many think the plan is badly timed, the RAC agrees. They believe that the proposed changes would impact badly on carers, tradespeople and those working in the night-time economy. RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “At a time when the basic cost of living for Londoners is soaring, these proposals seem to be poorly timed, so we strongly urge the mayor to think again instead of defaulting to extracting more money from the pockets of London’s drivers.”
For those of us in the motor or private-hire trade, it feels like creating costs in order to deter people from doing their jobs is a recipe for disaster. It is a short-sighted plan, only taking into account those for whom driving is a luxury and other options are a choice.
The future of London’s roads
Khan states that he is doing what needs to be done in order to reduce emissions and will do the right thing, despite criticism: “We have too often seen measures to tackle air pollution and the climate emergency delayed around the world because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient, but I’m not willing to put off action we have the ability to implement here in London.”
The elephant in the room is TfL’s large debt pile. t’s hard not to see part of the motive being cash generation for the regulator. The mayor claims charging road users would be a ‘simple and fair scheme’ that would replace the congestion charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). However, with rising living and fuel costs putting most of Britain in fear, this plan doesn’t seem to take into account those this will really affect.
Transport for London and the mayor said there would be a public consultation on the proposals, with measures to be brought in by May 2024. The rest of the country should also take note. Where London’s rule setters go, authorities in other regions tend to follow.